After Earth

“Okay, let’s try this one again. After a fantastic and long overdue NYC trip yesterday, today was all about being lazy. Just one quick movie to bask in the air conditioning, then back home to do pretty much nothing. Given the way that events turned out on Fri, that meant the movie du jour was After Earth.

Before even talking about the film itself, there’s a few things I find interesting. This was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, and he shares a writing credit on it too. If you just read that and went “”Whaaa?”” then you had pretty much the same reaction I did, well after seeing this movie publicized all over the place. Has the mighty really fallen so hard that they don’t dare even mention his name? I still recall multiple occassions where an auditorium would bust into laughter when his name splashed on the screen during the Devil trailer. As it turns out, much of the work was actually done by Will Smith. He came up with the concept and took on some of the directing duties. He just wanted a chance to collaborate with Shyamalan.

But on the subject of Smith, I also find it interesting for a film that was conceived as an opportunity for him to work with his son, Jaden, the two don’t really share a lot of screen time. The majority of the film involves Jaden wandering the violent planet on a mission to save him and his father, who is immobilized on part of their crash landed vehicle. They’re in communication, but not necessarily together the whole time.

Unfortunately, those points are about as interesting as it gets. Well, okay, there were a couple of interesting concepts. With futuristic scifi, there’s always room for inventive gadgets, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with them. The main villain, besides the elements and terrain, were these species of alien creatures that sensed humans by their fear. You could make yourself invisible to them if you were fearless. The theme of fear being a choice ran throughout the entire film. Kinda ironic when you realize again that this is being helmed by a man whose most famous works are within the horror genre. Or maybe someone had just been reading a lot of Green Lantern lately.

While that may have been a cool theme to run with, it made the film completely dry. What I love about Will Smith is his charm, a trait that his son showed he inherited in Karate Kid. However, in trying to play fearless, he instead came off as emotionless. All lines were delivered very direct and dry, and Jaden didn’t fare much better either. Except for a few moments of rageful rebellion, that scowl that he seems to have adopted lately was constantly plastered on his face. The best actor in the lot was the big CGI bird. He actually did have a moment that I found incredibly touching.

There were so many flaws in the story. Oh really, it happened to be just these two that survived? Oh you said this piece of equipment was vital? How long until it breaks? Oh you’re making a point to say how dangerous one aspect of the terrain is? How long until that’s an issue? Oh your transport just happens to be carrying one of those alien critters that kills people? Now, I’m usually the first to overlook such things if I’m really into it. If the ride is a fun one, I don’t care too much about the details. But when it’s so dry and predictable, each offense feels even worse than the last.

At least there was air conditioning there.

After Earth – \m/ \n

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